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PR Stunt?

The Houston Astros just did something...good?

May 13, 2021

Carmen Mandato

If you're as terminally online as most of us here at The Loop, you've undoubtedly seen one of the internet's most perfect memes: "The worst person you know just made a good point." It comes from Clickhole, originally, but we're at the point now where just the image of this dude's face...

...lets everyone know exactly what you mean.

Which brings me to the Houston Astros. I could go on and on about the cheating scandal and the total lack of punishment by the coward Rob Manfred and the brazen arrogance in the face of public scorn, but let's just skip a few steps and get right to the point: Screw the Houston Astros. I hope they rot. I hope they become the Mariners. If you like baseball, and you're not from Houston, you probably feel the same.

And yet, I regret to inform you on this strange and confusing day that the worst team you know just did a good thing. The Astros, first among MLB teams, are providing free furnished housing to minor league baseball players.

Does that sound like a big deal? Well, let me assure you, it's massive. Being a professional baseball player can obviously be very lucrative, but the situation is so dire in the minor leagues that MLB just had to mandate a pay raise at all levels. Triple-A players now must make at least $700 per week, Double-A is $600, and Single-A is $500. Plus, you only get paid during the five months that you actually play. So let's say you're a Double-A or Triple-A lifer, you spend ten years in the minors between the two, and never get a call-up. You know how much you'd make, roughly?

About $14,300 a year. Depending where you live, that's either below or just above the poverty line. Granted, some players make more, but not much more...not unless they make the majors. Considering the fact that a lot of these guys are forgoing college to pursue a baseball dream, it's an enormous sacrifice that does not always pay off. At the end of the line, it can leave you with no relevant professional skills, and no money to pursue them.

COVID-19 made the situation worse, and considering how much money these franchises print, it's kind of insane that their players are treated this way. What the Astros just did is very, very important, it's been a long time coming, and it mitigates one of the huge expenses for a group of people who aren't even within shouting distance of the middle class.

In a just world, this would inspire other teams to do the same. So far, only the Giants have announced anything remotely similar, and their proposal is just to give "allowances" for living costs. (Lucky for their minor leaguers, they don't actually have to live in San Francisco, or they'd probably be brushing their teeth in the backseat of a car somewhere.) There's no reason this can't happen all across baseball, and even if the Astros are only doing this as a PR stunt to disguise the fact that they are America's most loathsome franchise, well...good for them. A step in the right direction is a step in the right direction, even if it's taken by the worst team you know.